We are proud to announce the 2009 Alumni Award Recipients. The Alumni Awards Banquet was held Friday, February 20, 2009 in the University Center Annex.
Outstanding Alumni Award
Mr. Aaron Thomas ‘99 is a native of Pembroke, N.C. and the President/CEO of Metcon Construction, Inc. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from UNC Pembroke, and he is currently enrolled in the Master of Construction Management program at East Carolina University, where he expects to graduate in 2009.
In addition to his graduate work, Thomas has successfully completed the N.C. Highway Contractors Examination, the N.C. Public Utilities Contractor Examination, and the N.C. Building Contractors Examination. He also holds memberships in the Associated General Contractors of America and the Construction Management Association of America.
Thomas co-founded Metcon Construction in 2000, and the company’s office is located in the Comtech Park in Pembroke. Since its inception, Metcon has grown steadily with projects in both North and South Carolina. The company’s 2009 revenue is expected to reach $25 million and they currently employ more than 70 full-time employees. The company also enjoys the privileged status of being one of a few Unlimited Unclassified General Contractors in Southeastern, N.C.
Metcon has been designated by the U.S. Government as a minority-owned Native American, HUB Zone Certified Business, and has been designated by the state of North Carolina as a Historically Underutilized Business.
Some of Metcon’s clients include: UNCP, the Town of Pembroke, the Town of Red Springs, Pembroke True Value Hardware, Native Angels Homecare & Hospice, Comfort Inn Lumberton, Atkinson Inn & Suites Lumberton, City of Lumberton, City of Laurinburg, Huddle House of Pembroke & St. Pauls, Mikoto Express, Robeson HealthCare Corporation, Public Schools of Robeson County, Robeson Community College, Pembroke Place, and The Commons of Pembroke.
Thomas and his wife, Azalea, have three daughters, Ayanna, Alena and Ashtyn.
Distinguished Service Award
Ms. Donna R. Lowry is a native of Lumberton, and grew up in the Saddletree Community. She is the owner, President and CEO of Caring Touch Home Health Care, a nationally accredited company that employs over 600 individuals and provides services to over 700 patients in a seven county service area. Donna is a registered, licensed nurse in North and South Carolina. Donna is the daughter of James & Rosa Jacobs, granddaughter the late James Jacobs & Mrs. Mollie Jacobs of Lumberton and the granddaughter of James W. Thomas and the late Della Thomas of Lumberton.
Established in 2005, Caring Touch has grown to become one of the region’s largest healthcare providers, specializing in home health and behavioral health services. The corporate headquarters are located in Pembroke with an affiliate office in Lumberton.
Beginning with one employee, and herself as the key clinical provider, Lowry grew her small home business to become a large health care provider with over a $13 million dollar budget and a half million dollar per month payroll. Caring Touch is the first home health company in Robeson County to receive the prestigious state and federal recognized JACO Accreditation stamp of approval.
Ms. Lowry a dedicated supporter of education, and UNCP in particular. She has established The Caring Touch Home Health Care Endowed Scholarship, as well as a scholarship in nursing. She has also supported athletics at UNCP through her support of the First and Ten Athletic Campaign.
Ms. Lowry is an active and long time member of Mount Olive Pentecostal Church of Pembroke, and she supports numerous local sports teams, churches, and charity foundations.
Ms. Lowry has received many awards, including the Robeson County Entrepreneur of the Year and Outstanding Small Business Award from the Small Business and Technology Center, and Outstanding Leadership Ability in the Community Award. She serves on numerous boards and professional associations including the Executive Board of United Way; Business and Professional Women of the USA; the NC Department of Corrections Board of Directors; and the T.L. Lowery Global Foundation Board of Directors.
Donna and her husband, Charles, have one daughter, Alexis Rose Lowry.
Freddie Richardson—Hall of Fame
Freddie Richardson churned out a 126-14 career record in his four seasons in the Black and Gold, earning a trio of NAIA all-district and all-Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference accolades along the way. Following a prep career that saw him capture the South Carolina state championship, as well as second place
honors at the South Carolina AAU Junior Olympics, Richardson burst onto the college scene like a rocket, placing second at the NAIA District 26 championships in 1980 as just a freshman.
Richardson continued to excel as a sophomore, tallying a team-best 35 wins en route to a first place finish at the district championships, but saved the best portion of his career for his final two seasons as a Brave.
After earning second place honors as a junior at the NCAA Region
tournament, he registered a superb senior season, taking home all-American honors after finishing first at the NCAA Region tournament, as well as fourth at the national championships. He would earn team most valuable wrestler honors as well.
Freddie is married to Deana Richardson, and they have two children: Kenya and Holly. They reside in Charleston, S.C. where Freddie is employed as the Operations Manager for CK Supply.
Rosendo “Russ” Bryden
Rosendo “Russ” Bryden is the only NCAA all-American in the history of the UNCP men’s basketball program. He starred for the Braves from 1992-1996, played in 105 games during his career in the Black and Gold, and averaged 15.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He helped lead UNCP to a cumulative 49-58 record, including two of the three winning seasons the Braves have had since joining the NCAA Division II ranks.
A two-time all-conference and all-region selection, Bryden still holds the UNCP career mark for 3-pointers made (187). He shot an astonishing 43 percent (542-of-1262) from the field in his career, while canning 83.1 percent (393-for-473) of his free throw attempts. He currently ranks third on UNCP’s all-time scoring list with 1,672 points behind Joe Gallagher (2,161) and Joe Robisch (1,773).
Russ is married to Falena Bryden. They have three daughters: Deja, Dayna, and Tiara, and a son: Kieron. The family resides in Winston-Salem, where Russ is employed as a community support specialist.